Magazine  >  Issue 49  >  Fido Forges Into Destruction & Out of Devastation

Fido Forges Into Destruction & Out of Devastation

Japanese disaster affects man’s best friend in epic proportions.

As one pack of dogs and their handlers boarded a plane bound for a country convulsed by destruction, another sought assistance fleeing the devastation of a once, pristine Japanese landscape.

Hundreds of thousands of Japanese residents experienced the country’s largest recorded earthquake on March 11, 2011. Mother Nature’s collision course continued as the earthquake spawned tsunamis up to 33 feet that went crashing six miles inland. The probability of survivors grew dim, as totals of those expected lost in the tragic fury rose to insurmountable numbers.

This is when a team of six dogs and their handlers boarded a plane for Ofunatio City on the northeast coast of Japan. On March 14, task forces began their daybreak mission.  Four of the six dogs deployed were rescues turned rescuers. Recruiting rescue dogs for the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is one of the tenets of which founder Wilma Melville is most proud. “Our teams were in Japan for five days. Thousands of people who had loved ones missing were assured no one was left behind. That in and of itself is our success,” Melville reported.

The dogs typically pinpoint where search and rescue efforts should begin. In an earthquakeravaged zone, many people could survive with the void spaces created as structures collapse. Sadly, in the areas affected by the tsunami, the Japanese death toll escalated. Depending on the direction of the wind, search dogs were moved by the handlers to give them the best positioning for covering an area.

SDF dogs are highly trained in direction control. Melville explained, “For the handler, a 150 to 200 pound person, he or she does not have to climb all over every inch of rubble. The dog can be sent out 50 to 75 yards in one direction, move left or right according to a handler whistle signal, and then be brought back.” SDF dogs are helpful in indicating areas where no one is alive, so the need for resources in that area, especially where time is critical, can be assessed…

Despite Internet rumors, animals left in Japan will not be euthanized. Shelters exist that are taking in pets until plans can be made for reunion or return. As of press time, Geoffray was waiting to hear if and when her husband would evacuate and/or when she would be returning to Japan.

What is next for Geoffray and her military family? FIDO Friendly will continue to report their unfolding story on our blog. We asked Geoffray when she would reunite with her family. “Either me coming back to Japan or my husband having to evacuate with them to a safe haven, wherever that may be,” she reported…

KINSHIP CIRCLE ANIMAL DISASTER AID is an animal advocacy and disaster response organization that deploys emergency aid for animal victims of natural and human-caused disasters. Our responders reflect a wide range of training and certification: Search and rescue, veterinary care, crisis sheltering, fire and water rescue, large animal and technical rescue, wildlife rehab... In recent years, Kinship Circle has helped animals in: Japan Earthquake-Tsunami, Brazil Floods-Mudslides, Chile Earthquake-Tsunami, Gulf Oil Disaster, Haiti Quake, Iowa Floods, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Brenda Shoss, Executive Director, Kinship Circle, told FIDO Friendly, "For animals, Japan’s tragedy is trifold: Earthquake, Tsunami, Radiation. In fact, the disaster still unfolds for animals with expansion of the radiation exclusion zone. As more people vacate their homes, more animals are left behind without food or care. Working with Japan animal NGOs, Kinship Circle tracks leads for animals trapped at deserted homes. We also do search and rescue in ravaged parts of northern Japan, including Fukushima and Iwate Prefectures.”

Follow News & Photos About Animal Disaster Rescue In Japan: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/japan_quake/notes.html

To Support Animal Disaster Rescue & Relief In Japan: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/donation

Mariaelena Geoffray, whose story we shared with you in our June article wanted to share, “I have to thank Susie Atheron, of Canine Creek in Tehachapi, for getting the word out so quickly and helping with my situation and also JEARS (Japan Earthquake & Animal Rescue and Support, Animals With Fur, Japan for contacting me constantly making sure everything was OK with the pets, and also, Little Cavaliers for posting my situation online. You all have no idea how much you social networking has affected my situation and also helped others!  From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”


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